Suicide prevention at top of Senator Nasheed’s desk

Senate Bill 627 aims to curb suicide on campuses in Missouri.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, was just three years old when her mother killed herself at 25.

Ever since, Nasheed has held the issue of suicide prevention close to her and is now working on reducing the issue on public university campuses across Missouri. Next fall, she is hoping all higher education institutions will have a policy for advising students and staff on suicide prevention resources through a bill she has sponsored, SB 627.

“We want people who feel like they just can’t live another day to just pick up the phone and have someone they can talk to and convince them that life is worth living,” Nasheed said. “This is about giving individuals the opportunity to live another day.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged 15-34.

“I want people to become more aware now more than ever before when it comes to this disease and how people are being impacted each and every day … and so that’s one reason why I decided to sponsor the legislation,” Nasheed said. “I think that people know that there need to be more resources and conversation had about (suicide) prevention on campus.”

MU spokesman Christian Basi said that one of the suicide prevention programs that MU has is RESPOND, a free eight-hour training program through the Counseling Center for faculty and staff that teaches how to detect symptoms of mental illness and effective intervention. This program is also available for students.

The Wellness Resource Center also has a 20-minute suicide prevention program, “Ask, Listen, Refer,” which is free for students. The Mizzou Cares Committee also offers free resources and support throughout the MU community. Liz Sale, evaluation director at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, also mentioned the Partners in Prevention program at universities across the state.

“I believe this bill is a big step forward in acknowledging the importance of developing and implementing comprehensive suicide prevention policies, programs and practices in colleges and universities across the state,” Sale said.

Regarding the cost that this policy would have to campuses, Nasheed believes it will not be an issue because administration “will be able to add another issue to what they’re already dealing with everyday.” MU does not comment on pending legislation.

The bill is rather new, so Nasheed has not heard much feedback yet, but she said she believes that the bill will pass without any opposition.

“This is very dear to me (since) my mother committed suicide,” Nasheed said. “Each and every day, I still think about her and wonder what life would have be with her, and a lot of families go through that as a result of being victims of a parent or a loved one who have committed suicide.”

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